Federal government not liable for fees in Al-Haramain case, court rules

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has overturned an order that the federal government pay the attorney fees of an Islamic group that claimed it was the target of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a lower court judge was wrong to award more than $2.5 million to attorneys for the Ashland chapter of the now-defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. The foundation waged a nearly five-year legal challenge to the Bush administration's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program. The appeals court ruled that the federal government is immune to such claims.

Federal officials declared the chapter a supporter of terrorism in 2004.

The eavesdropping was discovered when officials mistakenly turned over a document to Al-Haramain lawyers that appeared to be a top-secret call log.

— Paul Elias, Associated Press

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